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Asia: Shares up, US bond yields jump before Fed

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 08:50
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[TOKYO] Asian shares followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday, while short-term US bond yields held near 4 1/2-year highs as investors braced for the possibility of the first interest rate hike in the United States in almost a decade.

Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.1 percent while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.4 percent.

US shares rallied over one percent overnight, in part helped by data showing healthy growth in consumer spending though price action is likely to have been exaggerated by low trading volume ahead of the Fed's policy verdict on Thursday.

US Treasuries yields jumped on Tuesday, with the policy-sensitive two-year yield rising about 8 basis points to peak at 0.815 per cent, its highest level since April 2011.

It last traded at 0.802 percent in early Asian trade.

The 10-year US notes yield stood at 2.272 per cent, having risen to a 1 1/2-month high of 2.293 per cent on Tuesday. "Those moves do not seem to be caused by any leaks on the Fed's meeting. They are probably triggered by nervousness among those who are taking position (ahead of the Fed's policy announcement)," Chotaro Morita, chief fixed income strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities, said in report.

Indeed, money market futures contracts for September have hardly budged, still pricing in about a 30 per cent chance of a rate increase this week.

US economic data published on Tuesday did little to either back, or douse, expectations of an imminent rate increase.

US retail sales for August was slightly below market expectations but, combined with upward revision for July, the figures painted a fairly healthy pace of consumer spending growth over the past two months.

On the other hand, manufacturing remained soft, smarting from the headwinds of a strong dollar, slack economies oversees and lower oil prices.

In the currency market, the dollar index extended its rebound from Monday's three-week low of 95.125 to stand at 95.587. But it is essentially staying in its well-worn range in the last few weeks.

The euro traded at US$1.1273 while the dollar fetched 120.46 yen.

In contrast, emerging market currencies remained under pressure on worries about higher US borrowing costs and slower growth in China, trading near multi-year lows against the dollar.

Oil prices held firm for now after 3 per cent gains made on Tuesday driven by rallying stocks, higher gasoline prices and on a report showing strong stockpile draw.

In early Asian trade, US crude futures rose 0.8 per cent to US$44.95 per barrel while Brent futures rose 0.3 per cent to US$47.91.

REUTERS